There are many tips and tricks to making panoramic images. They make special rigs you can buy from various tripod-head companies. There are different methods of finding the nodal point. All of this is very useful information but hands down the the easiest way to make a panorama is... to use a tilt shift lens. The process is fast and easy. All you do is take a image in the center, then shift the lens one way, followed by shifting the lens the other way. Photographing each time you shift. This works for landscape as well as portrait orientation. Combine the three images in Photoshop and voila. Photoshop will actually stitch the image so easily you'll barely have to do any cropping. If you combine this with a the tilt ability of the lens, you'll have a masterful panorama without any distortion or loss of image quality. To learn more about the advantages of tilt shift lenses check out Darwin wWiggett's post here.
This weeks post image was made at Esch Road Beach in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I first found the proper tilt to render the scene sharp, then I took three images, one in the center of the shift range, one to the right, and the last one to the left of the shift range. I then combined the three images in Photoshop. I didn't have to make sure everything was level, I didn't have to find the nodal point on my lens, and I didn't have to worry about the proper amount of image overlap. I was able to capture the moment without really thinking about it. The only downside is that tilt shift lenses aren't cheap. Canon makes a couple but probably the most popular is the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Ultra Wide Tilt-Shift Lens. Just announced is the Rokinon TSL24M-C 24mm f/3.5 Tilt Shift Lens for Canon. Rokinon has been getting good reviews and although I haven't tried any of their lenses, I have heard from some of my fellow photogs and they are happy with them.
My panoramic workflow has just become so much easier because of the tilt shift lens. If you are serious about making panoramic images I would consider renting and trying out a tilt shift.